Friday, December 16, 2016

Professional Activities That Miss The Point

I've been reading old Ask a Manager posts in which people share stories about consistently bad team-building exercises - often ridiculous things like 10-mile hikes or other sporty activities; over sharing personal things ("Bring in a childhood picture!"); talking about one's family (often leading to a seemingly never-ending discussion about one's children, which makes it awkward for those who don't have children and might be sensitive about that, or have children who are deceased, or have complicated relationships with their children); scavenger hunts, being required to share personal stories.

These sort of forced activities seem to miss the point; I'd prefer to get to know my colleagues in a more natural setting, even if it's lunch. 

To be fair, I dislike forced socialization. Come to think of it, I'm not especially social anyway. I usually get enough socialization at work, and I'm minimally interested in going out on weekends or evenings.

I'm reminded of one of my recently-completed ESL licensing classes; at one point, we were all to bring in something that represents our culture, and it seemed like half the class brought it pictures of their kids, whom they then talked about at length to the exclusion of everything else, which kinda missed the point.

During a two-day required diversity training, four guest speakers came in to talk about different perspectives on culture; one Native American gentleman who was a district employee gave a really good talk; his dad had been a Navajo codebreaker during WW2. However, two of the guest speakers who were supposed to talk from a European-American perspective and a Hispanic perspective instead talked about being Mormon in Utah. Again, these speakers missed the point; their talks felt like evangelization. It would be like asking someone who lived in Rome -or worked in Vatican City - what it was like to be Catholic. I'm sure there are plenty of non-Catholics living in Rome, and perhaps even a few working in Vatican City, but the religious culture is so pervasive that it's necessary to discuss that element of it.

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